Place and Imprint: Middelburg: Gilles Horthemels le Jeune, 1688.
Edition: First edition.
Bibliographical References: Brunet, II, 470; Cioranescu, Bibliographie de la Littérature Française, 38017; OCLC records 12 copies, five in the US and seven in Europe and Britain.
Condition: Edges of the binding a little rubbed; scattered stains and foxing; paper repairs to the final two leaves, mostly marginal but affecting a few letters at the extremities of three lines in the penultimate leaf; very good copy.
Book ID: 28487
Physical DescriptionSmall 12mo, 19th century brown half morocco, signed P. Pralon of Dijon, dark brown paper boards, blind rules and gilt lettering. Woodcut device on the title-page and two woodcut initials. , 95 pages.
CommentsThree ingenious, bold and entertaining imaginary conversations between the fictional character of Moliere’s famous play, Tartuffe, and the deceased François Rabelais, written pseudonymously and modeled most closely on the dialogues of Lucian, Pietro Aretino and Bernard le Bovier Fontenelle. The subject of the conversations is women, men’s relationship to women, procreation, coquetry, seduction, and caring for them, including the roles of eunuchs in classical antiquity. Moliere’s character Tartuffe made his first appearance on stage in 1663. Outwardly he was pious, but in reality he was mercenary, lecherous and deceitful. Both character and play were popular, but frowned upon by the church and banned, which made pairing him in dialogue with the master of satire, free-thinker and great writer Rabelais (circa 1485-1553) intriguing. In one part of the second conversation, the character of Rabelais teasingly critiques the work of Moliere. And in the preface, the pseudonymous Le Sieur de la Daillhiere falsely claims, as Tartuffe might have, that there is no sin in the text of the dialogues. ¶ This is an early example of a dialogue that uses literary figures as its interlocutors. The dialogue form was popular in France in the 17th century and was used most successfully by Fontenelle (1657-1757) and François Fénelon (1651-1715). In the preface the author states that his reason for anonymity was “that the work doesn't deserve it, being a mere trifle in comparison to other works he is about to give to the public, of which the present is merely an outline." ¶ From the library of French bibliographer Gabriel Peignot (1767-1849), with the manuscript notation on front blank, "Vente Peignot." Catalogue de la Bibliothèque de feu Gabriel Peignot, page 227, #1883 (this copy). On the front paste-down is the armorial bookplate of Jean-Baptiste Philippe Constant Moens (1833–1908), the Belgian philatelist considered the first dealer in stamps for collectors.